Department of Health

Identifying and responding to children at risk

Information and resources to support health professionals.

This page provides important information and resources to support health professionals identify children experiencing vulnerability and respond to their needs.

Learning and support for health professionals

Children at Risk Learning e-Learning Portal

This free portal contains resources and e-learning to support health professionals understand their responsibilities to children and young people experiencing vulnerability.

There are three interactive training modules for health professionals working across Victoria’s health service system:

  • Protecting Children: Introductory course on identifying and responding to child abuse and neglect
  • Responding to vulnerability: A guide for general practitioners
  • Responding to vulnerability: A guide for health and community services providers.

The modules aim to help learners to build skills to:

  • identify vulnerable children
  • engage with parents about child vulnerability
  • respond to suspected abuse or neglect
  • understand legislated responsibilities and the child protection and family services system.

Learn about protecting vulnerable children

Identifying children at risk

Possible indicators of vulnerability, child abuse and neglect

Health professionals are well placed to identify and respond early to children experiencing vulnerability.

Health professionals need to be able to recognise when children may have been harmed, or at risk of harm. There are many indicators of vulnerability, including physical, emotional or behavioural signals that can point to possible child abuse and neglect.

Resources available that outline possible indicators of trauma and abuse include:

The presence of indicators does not automatically mean the child is at risk of harm. Health professionals should consider these indicators in the context of the family history, and the ability and willingness of the parent or carer to protect the child from harm.

Having conversations with parents about possible concerns for the safety, health and wellbeing of their children is important to ensure that the best interests of children are promoted.

Ask, Listen, Record and Share

Sharing knowledge, communicating effectively, making decisions together and respecting each other means that we are better able to protect children. If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of abuse always consult and seek advice about your concerns. For further information about this approach, complete the training modules in the Children at Risk Learning PortalExternal Link .


To ensure that you have not missed any part of the patients experience that may impact on their health care.


Remain sensitive to the patient’s experience and provide reassurance


Ensure no information is lost and if other professionals are involved, information can be shared.


Sharing our expertise, seeking advice, providing information and making decisions together is the best way to protect vulnerable children.

Sharing information with other services

For information on responsibilities under the child information sharing scheme (CISS), the family violence information sharing scheme (FVISS) and the multi-agency risk assessment and management framework (MARAM), please visit Vulnerable children – responsibilities of health professionals.

Royal Children’s Hospital factsheets

These factsheets include:

Learn more at Vulnerable Children and Family Violence: Information for health professionalsExternal Link .

Further resources

Other resources and training focused on identifying and responding to children, young people and families experiencing vulnerability include:

Reviewed 13 September 2023


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